When Carotene was romping to a record six Sovereign Awards for a filly or mare in Canada, the English suggested that David Willmot‘s acquisition of more than a dozen broodmares and fillies at the 1982 Newmarket December Tattersalls Sales was an “invasion by the colonials.”
One of the mares, Whisper, was carrying a future Horse of the Year – Play The King. Another, Carrot Top, one of three mares from the Whitney’s dispersal of their English stock, was in foal to Great Nephew, who was gaining a reputation in Europe as an outstanding broodmare sire. Willmot acquired her for 25,000 guineas, a figure he felt was “a steal” as the other two mares were knocked down for six figures. When Carrot Top gave birth to a chestnut filly at the Kinghaven’s farm in King, Willmot was in the foaling barn. “When she got to her feet, I said ‘that’s a race horse’. Seldom have I looked at a newborn foal and felt so strongly that it would be a good race horse. She had a trait of working like blazes in the morning for Roger (Attfield) but in the afternoon she would take herself to the back of the field before unleashing her run.”
Carotene broke her maiden on a sloppy racetrack in her lone start as a 2-year-old in 1985. At age three she was Canada’s champion filly and grass horse, winning the Breeders’ Stakes, Toronto Cup and Wonder Where. She was second in the E.P. Taylor and Prince of Wales and third in the prestigious Yellow Ribbon Invitational at Santa Anita. The following year she captured the Yellow Ribbon against one of the best field of fillies and mares ever assembled at the California track. She also won the Matchmaker Stakes at Atlantic City and the New Hampshire Stakes at Rockingham in record time.
Although she only won once in 14 starts as a 5-year-old, the win came in the Gr.1 Pan-American Handicap at Gulfstream. Carotene was second or third in seven other stakes races in 1988 and was named Canada’s champion older mare and grass horse for the second year in a row. In 41 career starts she earned $1.2 million.